One of my favourite touches in first-person video games is your virtuahands reaching out to objects in the world. This is used to lovely effect in Beyond R’Proach, a nice little new walking simulator where we stroll through dense underwater foliage, pushing plants out the way as we go. It’s short, it’s colourful, it builds a nice little song along the way, we touch lots of plants (a bonus in any game, to be sure), and that’s all nice. Then it brings in my favourite magical video game element: that old ‘hall of mirrors’ glitch, which still delights me more than most fancy special effects.
So we’re under the water, yeah? Walk on and our virtuahands will automatically raise to push plants out our way, unless we hold the left or right mouse button (or both) to shield our eyes and push on through. As we go, doors appear, changing the colours of everything when we walk through and building the music up bit-by-bit. It’s pleasant! I had already decided to post about the game at this point, as I’m fond of wandering around looking at colours.
And then! Eventually, doors lead to worlds where the sky does something similar to that lovely hall of mirrors effect, being streaked with the blurry trails of everything passing before it – fronds, hands which are now cracked, and rising bubbles which are now letters. It’s a little magical, though does feel a little off – maybe a bit sinister? I spooked myself thinking there might be something hiding in the glitch. For a while I found myself raising both hands as if to cover my eyes while the colours settled. Disorientating but not entirely unpleasant, which probably also describes my life.
I do still adore hall of mirrors glitches. They look more exciting and magical than any fancy chain of particle effects, peeking through holes in the world into the mysterious void beyond. They make clear how fake video game worlds are, but make that seem special rather than a sham. Yes, none of this is real – and isn’t it amazing that worlds we get so lost in are all just computer trickery? I spent a lot of time noclipped outside Quake levels, obvs.